If You’re Not Yet Like Me is a short story written by Edan Lepucki. It is a story of a single woman – Joellyn – who lives alone in an apartment in New York. Joellyn happens to be narrating the stories of her (failed) romance with an unemployed, terribly-dressed man named Zachary to her unborn child.
If You’re Not Yet Like Me: Summary and Plot Analysis
Joellyn is a very relatable vision of a woman in her mid 20s to early 30s – a woman that is insecure yet boisterous, independent with a burning desire of companionship, compassionate yet indifferent, funny yet grappling with solitude. A woman that seems smart at some occasions and lost in others.
Joellyn is an independent, confident woman living in the big city when one day she comes across an unremarkable gentleman Zachary at a crowded coffee house – one of those days where people order complicated coffee and the barista is cornered with a backlog.
She strikes a conversation with Zachary, who was right behind him in the queue. Although Joellyn finds nothing remarkable about Zachary, she ends up setting a date with him later that night against her better judgement.
She keeps her end of the bargain and shows up for the date only to re-affirm that Zachary is still as invisible a guy, as the one she met earlier that day. She carefully observes the events of their date, Zachary ordering beer and a salad with onions – making her think if he already found her as repulsive as she did.
When he offers to buy another drink , she does not decline and ends up making another impulsive decision to invite him over to her place, despite the precautionary measures she takes earlier in the day to avoid this scenario.
They end up having a good time together; although Joellyn’s impression of Zachary does not change much, she begins to soften for him over the time they spent together.
Over beachwalks, pinatas, Imagine- land and pinatas , she starts to bond with Zachary, starts feeling warm and cozy in his presence and begins imagining his husband like behavior towards her, only to have the relationship end one day over Zachary not seeing how this could work out for them.
Instead of trying to salvage the relationship, Joellyn ends up putting the blame of the failure of their relationship on his ‘invisibility’, driving a final nail in the coffin. Although she is heartbroken, instead of composing herself and starting afresh, she ends up making a mistake with an ex and ending up pregnant with his child.
If You’re Not Yet Like Me: Review
The story is told by Joellyn to her unborn child perhaps as a lesson for her not to make the same mistakes as her mother did.
Although the story and the characters seem a little less developed to begin with, Lepucki does a good job to make up on the relatability front. The characters are quite relatable and so are the struggles of an adult still trying to find her bearings. The humor in the story did muffle the blow of the tale of a failed romance.
If You’re Not Yet Like Me: Quotes
There are some quotes from the story that made me laugh to myself, because I did find them relatable-
“The coffee table covered with Venn diagram stains of cup’s past”
This would probably apply to any anti-coaster adult that has lived alone at some point either in hostels, dorms, or hotel rooms. It brought back a flurry of memories from my college days where we had a variety of geometrical shapes adorning my study table, coffee table, bedside table – you name it.
I remember quoting University of Minnesota research to my friends about how people with cluttered desks are geniuses actually, and as such, they should be left alone devising their genius plans to make the world a better place (atleast for them!)
“The ending changes everything that came before it”
This is what Joellyn tells her unborn child when revealing who her father is. She blatantly announces that she did not shed her superficiality after the heart break.
Although it did seem to her at one point that her story could have been one of the Happy Ever Afters, but it never became that. The sad end to their short lived romance is all that stuck in her mind, the beautiful journey before that faded away into oblivion.
I guess whether you will like the book depends on what you care for more – the destination or the journey.